“For one person who likes Spain there are a dozen who prefer books on her.” ― Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon
For hundreds of years Spain has played a role on the world stage. It’s location means it has been influenced by many different civilizations and cultures – impacting the architecture, language, and food of each region.
A general background and history of Spain
Spain, has a long and rocky history. It was a part of the Roman empire for decades. When the rest of Europe was plunged into the Dark Ages, during the 800’s, Spain was a part of the Moorish empire where it flourished but for centuries Christian, Islamic, and Jewish factions battled for control until the land mass was completely retaken by the Christian rulers in 1492. This began the rule of imperial Spain and a huge growth in the size of the empire. Wars, conquests, and re-conquests make up the years leading up to the 20th century. It wasn’t until 1978 that Spain restored a democratic monarchy after a vicious civil war and fascist regime. Today Spain is stable, a member of the European Union, and Eurozone currency region. The country borders both the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea as well as France, Portugal and tiny Andorra. But its territories stretch even further including the Balearic Islands, Canary Islands, and two cities in coastal northern Morocco. As one of the first countries to colonize the new world, many Americans already have some connection to Spain.
3 things you probably didn’t know about this country?
Although it has a very long religious history Spain is considered one of the most secular countries in Europe.
It has the oldest restaurant in the world, Casa Botin in Madrid.
You can ride a camel near an active volcano when you visit the island of Lanzorate Spain.
What are some must-visit sites?
Spain has many diverse regions, each with their own must-see sites. You’re most likely to fly into Madrid from the United States and this city is not one to miss. Make sure to visit the tapas restaurants in the evenings, visit the famous Prado museum, and the Palacio Real home to Spain’s royal families for generations and now a museum. See some of the artist Gaudi’s most famous creations in Barcelona, and tour the Alhambra in Andalucia. If you’re up for a great challenge consider tackling the Camino de Santiago in its entirety or just a portion.
Where can you see some hidden highlights of this country?
The Costa Brava region is a true gem. This coastal region in northern Spain has amazing history, dozens of beaches, and wonderful Catalan food. The Girona airport is serviced by low cost carrier RyanAir and is often listed as an alternate airport to access Barcelona. It’s almost 50 km from the city but don’t rush to get there -spend some time exploring the coast.
In Andalucia book a stay in one of the cave homes that are quite popular in the region. These unique dwellings are likely not at all what you imagine and are a once in a lifetime experience!
Why this country should be on YOUR bucket list
Spain really is the perfect destination for all ages and is one of the less expensive areas of Europe to visit. Unfortunately the economic crisis is still riddling the country so there are many deals to be had. Whether you enjoy relaxing on an island beach, visiting historical sites, or dancing the night away you will find it in Spain!
Have you traveled to Spain? What would entice you to visit Spain or add her to your travel bucket list?